Many of the strangest aspects of this year’s World Cup relate to team North Korea. The latest intrigue: were the throngs of “North Korean soccer fans” filling stands in the match against Brazil actually Chinese actors? The London Evening Standard writes:
Perhaps it was their identical red outfits or how their applause was directed by a “conductor” that suggested the North Koreans in the Ellis Park stadium in South Africa were no ordinary fans. FIFA officials and millions of television viewers were surprised when rows of red-clad “North Koreans” took their seats, believing the harsh regime had allowed its citizens freedom to travel.
Although they sang their national anthem loudly, the group tended only to cheer when directed by a man who stood before them like an orchestra’s conductor.
Meanwhile, another party of fans confirmed rumors they were Chinese, having obtained tickets through a Chinese sports PR agency, authorized to sell part of the North Korean allocation of 1,400 seats.
Dubbed the “fans volunteer army”, they included dancers, musicians and other artists and said they were happy to don the North Korean national colors.
One Brazilian fan said: “I spoke with them. They had come from Beijing and knew nothing about football or the World Cup. They said they were supporting their Communist cousins and were happy to be there.”